Mundane Monday: The Calling of Christmas

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The same God Who came in the flesh is calling us to participate in the Christmas story, too.

Scriptures of the Day:

2 Peter 1:10

“Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble.”

2 Timothy 1:9-10

“He is the one who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not based on our works but on his own purpose and grace, granted to us in Christ Jesus before time began, 10 but now made visible through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus. He has broken the power of death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel!”

We are doing a series at our church during this Christmas season on the calling of God on His people. The same God Who intervened in time and came in the flesh is calling us to participate in the Christmas story, too. Will we be like those who gathered around to adore Him, like those who proclaimed His birth, or will we miss this opportunity altogether?

As a mom, I can get focused on all of the details of buying gifts for my 5 children and all of the aspects of the holiday celebration that I begin to lose perspective. As a wife, I am thinking about how to honor my husband in the purchases and bless him, too. As a worship leader, I am focused on provoking my church to worship God passionately during this Holy season. So many things to be done and so many hearts to affect with the Gospel. But we can’t allow the busyness of the season to hinder the vision God wants us to have for His work and His people – at Christmas and for all of time.

As we remember what God did when he demonstrated His radical love by leaving His throne in Heaven to allow mankind to provide care for Him, God stirs our hearts to respond to this amazing show of His affection for us. To make Himself that vulnerable, entrusting Himself to a wicked people – what lengths God went to in order to reach us with His love – how can we share this love with those around us?

For years my children and I would bake cookies for our entire neighborhood, then go and carol while we gave them out. Violins and guitars were sometimes in tow. We were cold, it was a lot of work, but the joy it brought others as well as ourselves was unmatched. The classical children’s choir I directed would go to nursing homes, raise gifts for local orphanages and sing to encourage others. Sweet times, indeed.

New seasons bring new opportunities and new ways to serve. In all our roles that we serve in on this earth, the greatest is as a child of God. How can we be His vessel today? What mission has He given to us?

What lengths can we go to this Christmas to reach people with the love of God? This is our calling. It might be uncomfortable. It might mean laying down our agendas or doing something different than our tradition (ah, the sacred cow). But when we are motivated by the love of God and give selflessly, we get just a glimpse of what God did for us and our joy is complete.

Thoughtful Thursday: Exalted Expectations

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Proverbs 23:18

Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.

Proverbs 10:28

The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish.

Psalm 62:5

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. 

Philippians 4:6

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Philippians 1:20

As it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.

At the root of every heartbreak and every discouragement was once a hope or an expectation.  Sometimes life feels like one big carrot thrust in front of us, full of promise.  Then the carrot is taken away, like a big tease.  What do we do then?  Look for the next carrot, maybe?  That next carrot might be even worse than the former one.  What then?

God placed eternity in our hearts and placed us in this time and space, knowing our complete story.  That brings comfort to my soul, but I sure wish at times that I could know what is coming up ahead.  Well, at least I think I do. But in all honesty, if I had known some of the sorrows I was to face ahead of time, I do not know that I would have operated in the same grace as when those things unfolded.  Fear would have likely gripped my heart and I would have tried to impede the suffering ahead of time.  Probably would have complicated matters worse, instead of simply trusting God in all circumstances.  Ironically, I would have potentially missed an even greater blessing that God had planned – I just could not see it in the middle of the carnage of fallen expectations.

If our hope is in some relief or escape from the pain of our expectations being crashed, that is a shallow hope compared to waiting to see what God is going to do with our mess.  Instead of expecting everything to go our way, despite the fact that we are obviously impacted by every turn of this wild ride called life, what if we were, instead, to look eagerly to the LORD to see what He brings about?

Manipulating circumstances to avoid something terrible is attempting to operate as a god, and last I checked, that does not work out too well.  Surrendering the idol of our expectations to God in submission to His will and plan is placing our lives in the hands of the one true living God – a much safer place than in the hands of fallible man.

I like to know where I am going and am not terribly fond of surprises.  Bottom line – I think most of us probably prefer life to be problem-free, but that is not a likely scenario in a fallen world.  What is known and certain is that God knows it all, and He is in control, even when everything seems out of control.  Praise His Name!

Lord, thank You that You never abandon us.  I am amazed at how You can take every situation, every circumstance and turn it around for your glory and our ultimate good.  Help us to trust You while we wait on You.  Thank You, Father, for not granting expectations that You know would ultimately harm us.  You are good all the time and You are Sovereign – even when our expectations are unfulfilled.